How AWS empowers urban innovators to transform cities

By Amazon Web Services

Delving into road safety, resource allocation and 3D models.

To “reinvent the wheel” is to waste time working on something which has already been done successfully. While there is not much that can be changed for the wheel, how the concept can be applied has evolved exponentially with tech.

Today’s urban innovators have adopted this spirit of forward-thinking to transform the concrete playgrounds that we live in.

Here are three ways AWS is connecting urban spaces with their cloud tools.

Staying safe on the road

US tech firm Iteris uses AWS’s cloud-based analytical tools to improve traffic safety. Its traffic solution is equipped with advanced sensors that communicate with each other to ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians. The firm is also supporting the adoption of connected vehicles that will integrate well into these traffic networks.

With the help of the cloud, Iteris’s tool analyses data to identify underlying causes of traffic delays across states and local municipalities. It has been successfully deployed to boost traffic safety in a number of USA states, such as California and Georgia.

Nexar, another US-based tech company, tackles road safety from a different angle. It uses a network of dash cams in vehicles to monitor road conditions. Nexar’s tool uses AI and machine learning to blur license plates and remove faces captured, to protect citizens’ privacy.

Authorities can keep an eye on where and when roadway construction is happening, and conditions of road signs. They can even help traffic officials understand why constituents are complaining about a particular location.

Prioritise maintenance

The cumbersome paper processes of yesteryear are making way for cloud tools in the construction industry. Headlight uses geolocated video and image data to improve reporting and decision making when building or repairing critical infrastructure.

These digital forms of data replace traditional paper procedures, which helps agencies maximise their productivity. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, for one, saw a 28 per cent increase in inspectors’ productivity after using HeadLight.

When site inspections can be done much faster, agencies will be able to prioritise maintenance repairs for projects that need it most.

3D models

The Urban Analytics Lab at the National University of Singapore conducts intensive research on geospatial data analysis and 3D city modelling. They work with data on urban areas that help architects and city planners develop smart cities.

With the help of AWS’s cloud technologies such as Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, the researchers created a geospatial data warehouse compiling data on over 500 million buildings worldwide. The data collected is the most consistent and comprehensive set of metrics yet for buildings around the world, and helps urban planners deliver solutions that are more accurate to the needs of cities.

When it was first established, the lab only had a single server on campus to power its research capabilities. This limited the scale of its research projects.

Amazon’s RDS helped the researchers import a massive amount of crowdsourced geospatial data for the entire world into the cloud-based database. Cloud computing enabled them to upscale their work tremendously.

Machine learning will also be applied to the data to help predict the heights of buildings around the world. This will help to support studies on noise pollution and wind flow within urban areas.

Digital tools like the cloud are enabling cities in creating a safer and seamless way of living. Connectivity and convenience will pave the way forward for urban cities.

The region's leading AI innovation forum AI x GOV, powered by GovInsider, is happening on 27 July. Register here.

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